I am quite new to making my own pasta. In fact, I had not stuffed a single ravioli in my life till last Christmas, when I found a Kitchenaid pasta attachment under the tree. When I made my first batch, filled with ricotta and chives if I remember correctly, I was prepared for exploding pasta disaster. And, just like I thought, my pasta sheets turned out wonky, the pasta seemed to dry out as I was rolling it, and some of my filling came out as I stuffed my tortellini, or whatever shape I was trying to mould them into. The result? The best filled pasta I ever tasted. Homemade filled pasta is so much more than the sum of its parts (one of those parts being my relative inexperience). So, newbie or not, I proudly present my own creation: roast pumpkin and coriander mezzalunas with tomato and roast pepper sauce.
The pumpkin is roasted with chilli/garlic oil and thyme, then blitzed in the food processor and joined by some fresh coriander.
The sauce may sound like it involves a lot of work but I have taken a few short cuts here, because although making the pasta and the filling is far from difficult, you do have your work cut our for you as it is. Enjoyable work, that is. All you do is fry one clove of garlic in a smidge of olive oil, add a tin of chopped tomatoes and reduce it a bit. As you already have your food processor (or stick blender) out, just rinse the bowl and whizz up your tomatoes with some roast peppers from a jar. It’s as simple as that.
I am not going to lie to you. Making fresh pasta is a bit fiddly and after you’re done, you’ll have some cleaning up to do. Making fresh pasta, filling it and cooking a nice sauce to go over it is, shall we say, slightly more fiddly and will leave your kitchen looking someone set off a bomb in it. Now I am the sort of cook who kneads his bread in the Kitchenaid because it is a) less messy and b) less work and doesn’t like the words ‘icing sugar’ because it will mean more cleaning, so you can trust me when I say that these mezzalunas and their sauce are more than worth the effort of making them and cleaning up after them.
Having said that, if you’re going to make these, do it on the weekend or on any other day when you have time to potter about in the kitchen. I think the best advice I can give you when it comes to making filled fresh pasta is to clear your kitchen surfaces, because you’re going to need them. If you don’t have a lot of space in your kitchen, you can create more surfaces by putting a cutting board over your sink or cooker.
As I said earlier, making fresh pasta is not difficult, but there is one tricky bit: you have to make sure your pasta doesn’t dry out too much before you fill it, and cook it quite quickly after you have. Some recipes tell you to keep the pasta moist under a wet tea towel but for some reason I draw the line at wet towels covered with flour. I don’t know why, it must be some psychological barrier. My solution is to roll and fill small batches, keeping the cut-out mezzalunas (well, full moons at that stage) under a dry tea towel, and to cook them as soon as I’ve filled the last one. I cook these mezzalunas in two batches, eating in between and after. None too practical? Maybe. But I think cooking should be relaxing, and the times I’ve rolled, cut, filled and cooked these in one go, all I did was stress over whether they were going to dry out too much (they did a bit) or stick to my floured chopping board or baking mat (they did a bit). Plus I actually like the anticipation of a second batch, when you’re still peckish and looking forward to round two.
I get the heavy machinery out for these. I knead the pasta dough with the Kitchenaid, roll out the sheets using the same machine, and I blitz both the filling and the sauce in the Magimix. You could of course knead the dough by hand, and the roast pumpkin is soft enough to mash up with a fork or masher.
Before I forget, a palette knife is your best friend when you are making these. It will slide under your pasta easily when you need to lift it from your work surfaces.
400 g peeled pumpkin (peeled weight), cut into bited-sized bits
chilli and garlic oil (I buy this ready-mixed)
1 tsp of dried thyme
salt to taste
3 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped
– Preheat the oven to 190°C
– Mix all ingredients in a bowl, then spread out on a roasting tray and bake for about 45 minutes. The pumpkin should be soft.
– Put the roast pumkin in the bowl of your processor (or stick blender) and turn it into a paste.
– Add the chopped coriander and pulse. Do not incorporate the coriander completely, you should still be able to see green flecks.
300 g hard (’00’) flour
3 large eggs
splash of olive oil
– Put all ingredients in the bowl of your Kitchenaid and mix with the flat attachment.
– Once mixed, knead with the dough hook for about five minutes until you have a firm dough.
– Divide into four pieces using a knife or dough scraper. Wrap individually in cling film and chill in the fridge for thirty minutes or longer.
1 clove of garlic, minced or grated
1 x 400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 whole roast peppers from a jar
salt and pepper
– In a small saucepan, heat up the oil with the garlic in it until the garlic sizzles (I find this prevents burning).
– Add the tin of tomatoes.
– Bring to the boil and let simmer for 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
– Let cool a bit, then put into the bowl of your processor and add the roast peppers.
– Blitz into a sauce and season to taste.
– Put a large pan of water on to boil.
– Take one ball of dough, halve it and put the other half back in the fridge, wrapped.
– Roll out your pasta, using your pasta machine or pasta attachment. Start at setting one. Roll your dough, fold it in two and run it through again. Repeat four or five times until the dough is no longer sticky.
– Now roll out the dough (no longer folding) a few times on each consecutive setting until you reach five (if you prefer, go down to six).
– Cut out rounds, using a 6 cm pastry/cookie cutter with fluted edges.
– Put these rounds on a floured surface or (floured) silicon baking mat and cover with a tea towel until you’ve cut up an entire pasta sheet.
– Dollop a bit of the filling in the middle of a cut-out circle of pasta.
– Brush the edge of one half of the circle, fold over the other half and seal the edges. I find it easier to pick up the pasta and do this between my fingers.
– Repeat until you’ve filled all your circles.
– Lay your filled pasta on a floured surface and cover with a tea towel.
– Repeat until you’ve used up half of your pasta and filling.
– Slowly heat up your tomato and pepper sauce.
– Now cook your mezzalunas in the boiling water. If they stick to the bottom of your pan, nudge them gently with a spatula. They should float up to the surface.
– Try one to see if they are done to your liking (believe me, by this stage you’ll want to eat these puppies).
– Serve with the sauce.
– Repeat with the other half of your ingredients.